What Matters Now

In 2021, Lancaster University Management School launched the What Matters Now webinar series, addressing subjects at the heart of modern-day society and business. 

The public event series showcases the range and depth of practical research expertise within the School on issues important now and to the future. 

Covering subjects such as modern leadership beyond the Covid-19 pandemic; broadening digital inclusion; the future of the social care sector; and the use of Artificial Intelligence in business, seminars have held on a regular basis throughout the year.  

Events provide members of the public, businesses, public bodies and other organisations with the opportunity to connect with expert LUMS researchers, building relationships and developing potential collaborations. 

What Matters Now also features practitioners and experts from across business, government, charity and other sectors, providing the audience with wider perspectives and insight. Events will continue in 2022, and these are the topics we have covered in 2021:

Leading Beyond Covid

What leadership lessons have we learned over the last 18 months, and how can practices we adopted during the pandemic be taken into the future? Researchers and business leaders from around the globe give their experiences and perspectives of leading during the pandemic.

Dr Martin Brigham asks leaders and companies to imagine their future five to 10 years ahead, understanding the implications of what you do tomorrow for what happens in the long-term; and Dr Marian Iszatt-White examines leading in a digital age, and the implications of these technologies for the future of leadership.

Pedro Iootty, Deputy Director at the Brazilian Development Bank, and Kirsten Dawson, a manager in Strategy Consulting and Analysis for NAV CANADA, offer personal and public sector perspectives.

Four people standing talking, wearing business attire
Two older people looking at a tablet computer

Digital Inclusion

As digital technology continues to transform the ways we work, communicate, and access and consume services, many groups in society are at risk of being left behind. We examine how a greater and smarter use of digital technologies can promote economic and social inclusion.

Professor Niall Hayes and South Lakeland District Council Deputy Leader Councillor Jonathan Brook discussed the  Mobile Age project, involving care providers and older adults in developing an app that helps them better connect with their communities.

Dr Sharon Wagg and Alice Mathers of the Good Things Foundation, looked at the importance of digital inclusion in enhancing social inclusion during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Good Food – For Us and the Planet

What we eat, where it comes from, and its impact on the environment have never been more important for food producers, retailers and consumers. Alongside experts from North West businesses, we discussed the constantly-evolving food market. 

Professor Gill Hopkinson and Chris Dew, Managing Director of Affinity Packaging, explored the rapid changes within the food system and the ability of consumers to make ethical purchasing decisions.

Dr Lingxuan Liu’s work examines how food supply chains – from producers to consumers – have been tested by Covid-19, and Kay Johnson MBE, founder of The Larder, explained how they utilise locally and ethically-sourced produce.  

Fresh vegetables
A carer's hand holding the hand of someone in a wheelchair

Developing a Thriving Social Care Workforce

The adult social care sector is an increasingly important – and respected – part of the UK economy and society, but it faces numerous challenges. Experts from the Work Foundation, LUMS and the public sector discussed a new report from the Work Foundation and totaljobs that examines the issues facing the sector – which has an estimated workforce of 1.52 million – and suggests potential solutions. 

Among the panellists discussing the report’s findings and wider issues for the social care were Dr Carolyn Downs, from LUMS, and Ian Crabtree, Director of Adults Disability & Care Services at Lancashire County Council. 

Artificial Intelligence and the Data Revolution

The increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) and data present challenges for business and individuals alike.  AI and data are changing the way we live and work, presenting both challenges and opportunities.

As part of the BIAS – Responsible AI for Labour Market Equality project, Professor Monideepa Tarafdar and Dr Irina Rets look at ways of tackling problems with gender and ethnic bias in recruitment.

Professor James Faulconbridge’s research with legal and accounting firms across the UK considers how AI can be implemented, affect productivity, and be the basis for the development of new business models; and Dr Joe Deville’s work looks at the use of data in analytics, and how these analytics can inform the ethical future collection of data and practice within organisations.

A microchip and circuit board
Wooden blocks spelling out hybrid working and office working

Leading Hybrid Teams

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted businesses to change how they operate, with a lasting shift to remote and hybrid working in many organisations, and a real risk that workplace inequalities will worsen. 

Members of the Work Foundation presented research carried out alongside the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) into the impact of hybrid working on different worker groups.

They discussed the most recent report and previous Work Foundation research on the effect of the pandemic on work placements and internships in a hybrid environment, and the impact and potential future of hybrid working in the North of England.